A good gate latch from scrap metal

A proper gate system and fencing is vital on a farm. To make it easier to open and close the gates on the farming enterprise belonging to his employers, this farmer from South Africa has devised a brilliant solution for the gate latches.

There are many variations in the designs of gates, gate hinges and latches from farm to farm. However, the frustration experienced by motorists who have to open and close them is universal and it’s usually quite a struggle!

Louw Viljoen of the farm Schenkfontein in the Western Cape, South Africa, says he came up with a plan to more easily control wire gates one stinking hot day while he was having lunch in the shade.

Mr. Louw Viljoen

The majority of the farm gates which provide access to the tar road between Piketberg and Elandsbaai are made of steel and fitted with problem-free latches. However, the farm’s internal gates between the fields and the grazing camps still made use of the traditional wire design. Louw says they still use these traditional wire gates because they have to be up to 12m wide to provide easy access for combine harvesters.

About 50 ha of arable land on the farm is leased out for the cultivation of wheat, lupines and oats.


Louw’s version of a lever gate latch took about four months and four attempts to conceptualise.

He uses scrap materials readily available on the farm. The components consist of bits of angle iron for the base of the hinge (picture below), a piece of pipe for the lever, and a piece of pipe with a smaller diameter through which the galvanised wire loop for the gate pole is threaded.

The hinge of the angle iron base of the latch is bolted into a wooden pole, or cement or even steel.

The lever is also fitted with a single chain link that serves as a hook for a length of chain to securely lock the handle. This comes in extremely handy for those animals which have been clever enough to learn how to open gates for themselves. On Schenkfontein there are already five such farm horses that have mastered this particular skill!

The pictures (below) illustrate how the lever action works. The latch is mounted on a gum pole.

The lever action of the latch.
The lever in the closed position. The single chain link affixed to the lever can be used to lock the lever arm firmly in place with a length of chain.

Louw uses binding wire with a diameter of 4mm for the hook loop which goes around the gate pole.

Contact Louw Viljoen, email:

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